The Dance Of The Eunuchs by Kamala Suraiya Das


Kamala Suraiya Das also known as Madhavikutty, considered India’s ‘Poet Laureate,’ set a bold new tone for India’s women, poor and disenfranchised.Kamala Das’s poems epitomize the dilemma of the modern Indian woman who attempts to free herself, sexually and domestically, from the role of bondage sanctioned by the past. She was a revolutionary writer. I started reading her works very recently and of her memoirs, verses and stories and novels left a deep impression on me. No one has portrayed women so daringly as her. Her death has created a void in Indian English Literature.

Here I share with you two of my all time favorites.

The Dance Of The Eunuchs

( kamla das 1934-2009)

It was hot, so hot, before the eunuchs came
To dance, wide skirts going round and round, cymbals
Richly clashing, and anklets jingling, jingling
Jingling… Beneath the fiery gulmohur, with
Long braids flying, dark eyes flashing, they danced and
They dance, oh, they danced till they bled… There were green
Tattoos on their cheeks, jasmines in their hair, some
Were dark and some were almost fair. Their voices
Were harsh, their songs melancholy; they sang of
Lovers dying and or children left unborn….
Some beat their drums; others beat their sorry breasts
And wailed, and writhed in vacant ecstasy. They
Were thin in limbs and dry; like half-burnt logs from
Funeral pyres, a drought and a rottenness
Were in each of them. Even the crows were so
Silent on trees, and the children wide-eyed, still;
All were watching these poor creatures’ convulsions
The sky crackled then, thunder came, and lightning
And rain, a meager rain that smelt of dust in
Attics and the urine of lizards and mice….
(From Summer in Calcutta)

*****

The Looking Glass

Getting a man to love you is easy
Only be honest about your wants as
Woman. Stand nude before the glass with him
So that he sees himself the stronger one
And believes it so, and you so much more
Softer, younger, lovelier…Admit your
Admiration. Notice the perfection
Of his limbs, his eyes reddening under
The shower, the shy walk across the bathroom floor,
Dropping towels, and the jerky way he
Urinates. All the fond details that make
Him male and your only man. Gift him all,
Gift him what makes you woman, the scent of
Long hair, the musk of sweat between the breasts,
The warm shock of menstrual blood, and all your
Endless female hungers. Oh yes, getting
A man to love is easy, but living
Without him afterwards may have to be
Faced. A living without life when you move
Around, meeting strangers, with your eyes that
Gave up their search, with ears that hear only
His last voice calling out your name and your
Body which once under his touch had gleamed
Like burnished brass, now drab and destitute.

(from ‘The Twentieth-Century Indian Poets’ Ed. R Parthasarthy)

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3 thoughts on “The Dance Of The Eunuchs by Kamala Suraiya Das

  1. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for The Dance Of The Eunuchs by Kamala Suraiya Das « Spinning a Yarn Of Life [tikulicious.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com

  2. It was good to read the looking glass and dance of the eunuchs on your blog.I am a huge fan of Kamala Das and an absolute admire of the stark and honest portrayal of women’s true feelings in her writings.

  3. its a lovely poem by Das depicting her human understanding speciallt of women….she always fight 4 them

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